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DIY Estate Planning Mistake #13: Gifting the House to a Child Outright

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Dec 02, 2019 | 0 Comments

This is a sad but all-too-common story.

Mom and Dad had two daughters.  Let's call them Good Daughter and Bad Daughter.  Good Daughter lived a great distance away from Mom and Dad.  Bad Daughter lived nearby.  Bad Daughter had a bad drug habit and, therefore, financial issues.  Bad Daughter was always scheming to get money from Mom and Dad.  She had already weaseled them out of over $100,000 cash.  Bad Daughter read on internet about how the house might need to be sold to reimburse the state for nursing home expenses after her parents passed, so she convinced Mom and Dad to gift the home to her, which they did. 

Bad Daughter lost her own home to foreclosure and moved in with Mom and Dad, telling the rest of the family she had moved in to "care" for Mom and Dad.  (The "care" that she provided was that she literally stole food from her parents.) 

Bad Daughter then decided she needed even more money and threatened Mom and Dad with eviction lest they start paying her rent.  Mom and Dad, seeing no way out (and not seeking the advice of an attorney), started paying Bad Daughter rent.

Dad needed nursing home care two years later.  There was no way to convince Bad Daughter to gift the home back.  The gift of the very valuable home to Bad Daughter would have resulted in such a long penalty period that the best option was to private pay for the next three years to wait out the five-year lookback period.  The average cost of care in that jurisdiction was about $10,000 per month, resulting in a private pay obligation of about $360,000 ($10,000 per month times 36 months). 

Good Daughter ended up holding the bag.   One way or the other this was going to be very expensive.  She could sell or mortgage her own home to pay for Dad's care (with Mom not far behind).  She could quit her job and try to care for Mom and Dad herself, but that would be financially difficult and she literally did not have the skills needed (she was not a nurse).  She could hire an attorney to sue Bad Daughter for elder abuse and to try to get the house back.  The latter was probably the best option, because that would "only" cost about $30,000 to $60,000. (Did I mention that Bad Daughter was an attorney?  Shocking, but true.)

If you are "Good Daughter" (or "Good Son") and are worried about something like this happening to your parents, give us a call.  There are much better ways to plan ahead.

About the Author

Nina Whitehurst

Attorney at Law Nina has been practicing law for over 30 years in the areas of estate planning, real estate and business law She is currently licensed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Tennessee. Her Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating is the highest achievable: 5 stars in peer...


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